Under the Dome

Federal, state probes of video sweeps contributions sought

The campaign watchdog group Democracy North Carolina announced Thursday it is asking the U.S. attorney and the Wake County district attorney to investigate whether laws were broken involving campaign contributions from the video sweepstakes industry in the 2012 election.

Last month the state Board of Elections released a report detailing its long probe of the issue, concluding that no state campaign finance laws had been broken. The report showed that over a four-year period sweepstakes owners and operators pumped $10 million into a network of lawyers, lobbyists, consultants and politicians in an unsuccessful effort to keep the games legal in North Carolina.

Gov. Pat McCrory, Senate Leader Phil Berger, former House Speaker Thom Tillis were among the many candidates who received sweeps industry money. They later disgorged contributions that had come from sweeps executive Chase Burns, who was indicted in Florida on state charges.

The elections board said its jurisdiction was campaign finance law, and said any other law enforcement agency was welcome to use its report to see if criminal laws were violated. Democracy N.C. contends that the elections board report didn’t address some issues that could be federal or state criminal offenses.

Those potential offenses include violations of laws prohibiting public officials from accepting money from someone trying to buy an official act; money laundering; extortion; racketeering; bribery; corporate campaign donations, and prohibiting lobbyists from bundling contributions from multiple donors.

Earlier this year, U.S. Attorney Thomas Walker agreed not to prosecute five gaming software providers if they ceased operations in North Carolina by July 1. Democracy N.C.’s request, however, is broader and seeks to determine if politicians, lobbyists or others violated any laws.

Here is the group’s letter to prosecutors: